News / Species Spotlight / Species Spotlight - Yellow Cardinalfish (Ostorhinchus luteus) (01/19/17)

Species Spotlight - Yellow Cardinalfish (Ostorhinchus luteus)

Species Spotlight - Yellow Cardinalfish (Ostorhinchus luteus)
Cardinalfishes are a diverse lot, with dozens upon dozens of species scattered throughout the worlds tropical waters. Theyve long endeared themselves with aquarists thanks to their peaceful demeanor and reef-safe nature, but, while there are countless species out there which could be collected, only a select handful are commonly found in the aquarium trade. Many are perhaps a bit too pedestrian in appearance to be appreciated (a bit too freshwater in their coloration), but few would argue that the brilliant hues of the Yellow Cardinalfishes are some of the most vibrant in the family.

This sulphurous species is unfortunately a relative rarity, being found only in the reefs of Micronesia. This has been known only since 1998 and has since been documented from a range stretching from Palau in the west to the Marshall Islands in the east and up to the northern edge of Micronesia at the Ogasawara Islands. Like most other apogonids, it occurs in groups that typically lurk in caves and under ledges, becoming more active at night in their search for zooplankton. They are reported from lagoons and seaward reefs at depths ranging from 1-50 meters, but, in general, this species is only rarely encountered in the wild.

Recently, cardinalfishes have gone through some name changes, with the group now split into several smaller genera. Many of these had formerly been included in a single large genus, Apogon, but we now find the Yellow Cardinalfish recognized as Ostorhinchus luteusthe species name translates from Latin as yellow. Several other similar species are also known in the Pacific, with the most stunning of these being O. leslie from Samoa and Vanuatu. This fish is every bit as vibrant as O. luteus, but differs in having a beautiful red tail. So far, it has only been kept in captivity by the Waikiki Aquarium in Hawaii.

The Yellow Cardinalfish is a hearty animal that will thrive in a wide range of settings, so long as they are kept with relatively peaceful tank mates. There is generally no great difficulty in feeding this fish, as nearly any fresh, frozen or prepared food will be accepted. It is highly recommended to acquire this species in groups, as single individuals are more likely to turn reclusive. As this species is a mouth brooder, with the males holding the eggs, aquarists interested in breeding this stunning fish will likely find it to be relatively straightforward. While it is only sporadically available now, perhaps someday this gorgeous Micronesian species will become a common captive-bred option.